September 11th, 2008

September 11th, 2008

There are any number of reasons I don't post here too often
anymore.  There are the usual arguments: too much work, too little
time, and the composition of blog posts takes a great deal of
time, energy, forethought and editing.  Sure, I could allocate 30
or 40 minutes a day to knocking out crisp little short posts.  But
I am not so inclined.

When given to fits of snark there are blogs to read and then offer up a
comment.  There are political blogs or sites where I can link and
send to friends with comments.  But actually sitting down and
devoting time to a blog post -- that's a big task. And it seems more
daunting as my workload increases.

There was a time when blogging was very important to me.  It
maintained communications with many and gave me a soapbox, a platform,
a virtual column of sorts. There were fewer emails and online
activities then, and not as many varied demands on my time.  This
is not a complaint or an excuse; I am glad to be busy, to have work
that is fulfilling and interesting.  There's a curious paradox, as
well: much of my work is in and about communications.  I consult
in a variety of disciplines, most of which have to do with getting
messages out successfully, maintaining communication, user experience, increasing or
targeting reach, and convergence and integration of old media and
new.  So here I am, offering expertise in communications, and
barely ever blogging. 

And, of course, telling clients how and why
they should blog, stressing the critical importance of continued
communications efforts.  I am my own cobbler's kid.

E-mail is like conversation these days, as are omnipresent forms of IM and "micro blogging." 
Quick shots of data, contact, shout outs, and constant contact with so
many via these tools or phone, make it somehow less pressing to blog
consistently.  Of course there are a ton of posts in my head or in
various forms of  write/rewrite/first draft.  But it is
looking more and more like I'll need to retire to a life of writing in
order to get all of this out there someday.

I began blogging in 1999.   Sometime around 2001 or 2002 Doc
characterized my early efforts as a personal sort of blog. He once linked to and quoted  a particularly personal post, and that one continues to get hits and generate the occasional e-mail.

On September 11, 2001 I blogged a great deal, and did so in the days that followed
Some e-mails to friends around the globe made their way to becoming
blog posts, slightly edited or rewritten.  It was a very personal
moment, and I suspect most New Yorkers (and those in the DC area and
PA) feel much the same way.  I'd had an office across the street
from the Twin Towers.  We left that building and moved elsewhere,
in my case telecommuting more often than not.  We moved away a
little before September 11th.  I was told that the windows in that
building were blown out. New York had been attacked.  I worked a
stone's throw from the site, I had friends, coworkers and cohorts in
the area.  There but for fate, any of us could have been
there.  This was our stomping ground.

A colleague of mine was in the Holland Tunnel,
on his way to the World Trade Center that morning to conduct business.  Had he
been a little earlier, or if he'd agreed to the crack of dawn meeting
that had originally been proposed, he would have been one of the
victims.  Some Canadians I did business with at the time (we
always referred to them as The Chopstick Twins, although they were
neither twins nor chopsticks) were coming in and had asked that I show
them the Twin Towers, maybe take them there.  To New Yorkers, the
Twin Towers were a part of life.  There was the Observation Deck, and the restaurant Windows on the World.

These days when I go to lower Manhattan, or when I am on the highway in
Jersey just across the river, the lack of the Twin Towers is never lost
on me.  Ground Zero, that big hole and endless construction
project and evidence of the September 11th attack, is a reminder of
what is missing.  The days and weeks that followed are permanently
etched into the psyches of New Yorkers.  Worse no doubt for those
who lost immediate family, friends, loved ones.

What sticks with me is the incredible sense of loss.  People lost
loved ones, and for weeks they would be walking through lower Manhattan
or to hospitals with pictures, searching for the missing.  Even
today there are still body identifications as bone fragments (and other
remains, carted off to a center in Staten Island) are
analyized. A recent discovery near Ground Zero uncovered more bone
fragments.  Approximately 1100 of the 2749 vitims have not yet
been identified or offered a sense of closure for their families. 
Up in smoke, no remains, just memories, and an intangible and huge sense
of loss.

Also on display during that time was a tremendous expression of love.  I blogged about it then, and to this day it remains one of the most acute memories of that time.

There are conspiracy theorists who can state any number of truths about
events just before the attack.  Yes, billions of dollars of
insurance were taken out just before the incident.  Yes, certain
dead give-aways about the pilots were overlooked by various
agencies.  Yes, W had a friendly dinner at the White House with
the "Saudi Bush," the Saudi royal and Washington attache who is like
family to the Bushes, the very night of the incident.  And yes,
the way the buildings collapsed is a matter of oddness, and to some,
intrigue.  But the prevailing sense is of loss, of change, of pain.

Each year it comes back to haunt us on this day.  There is a
ceremony in Lower Manhattan in which the names of all of the
victims are read, one by one.  The pain is revisited, shared by so
many.  2749 victims.  Exponentially, if each of them had an
impact on 25 people (friends, family, coworkers) that would be nearly
70,000 people feeling major pain today.  But 25 people is a small
number.  Think more like 100 persons of impact for each of the
dead.  Then today's number for shared pain becomes over a quarter
of a million.  Add to that those lost at the Pentagon and in

And then consider the New Yorkers, shocked by the attack on the
city.  And those in the Metropolitan area, to and for whom the
city is a fulcrum.  We are all changed somehow.  The vacant
space is a constant reminder. Views from parts of Manhattan, Brooklyn,
New Jersey and the water are reminders of what was once there. 

radio station client of mine was the very first to have an antenna on
the Towers.  The father of a kid in my son's Cub Scout Troop had
an office in the North Tower.  A record promotion guy told me he
was scared of heights, but how about he and his wife take me and my
wife to Windows, to see if he could overcome his fear and eat
there.  These are a few random memories of mine.  Any New
Yorker or denizen of the Metropolitan Area can offer up their own
version.  One of my coworkers was on the train going over the
Williamsburg Bridge and saw one of the planes attack as the subway went from
Brooklyn to Manhattan.

A year or two after the attack I once again was involved in a company
with offices in lower Manhattan, close to where the towers had
been.  I was in those offices when the August, 2003 blackout took
place, and everyone's first thought was, "Oh, no, another attack."

I recall September 11, 2001, sitting at my computer, unable to work.  Blogging that day as an
autopilot response.  And attempting to reach loved ones and others
in the city.  The phones were out in the city, except for some
cell service.  The state of emergency remained in effect for days.

In some ways the world has not been the same since.  There are
those who consider these to be notches of victory to the
perpetrators.  The US economy has not bounced back.  Air
travel is more expensive than ever, and the process is a pain. 
And terrorism is a constant threat.

The first attack on the World Trade Center, a bomb scheme gone awry,
was eight years before the air attack.  Next year will be eight
years since then.

We all remember where we were and what we were doing when we heard the
news.  New Yorkers recall the weeks afterward and the seeming
endless horror, smoke, the continued burning on the site for weeks afterward, the site rubble and rescue/recovery
project.  This was a more life-changing event that any of the
other "remember where you were" major events that I can recall. 

And on this day each year it all comes back, as though it was just a
few moments or days ago.